If you’re a Star Wars fan (or even if you’re not), and you’ve been on Twitter in the last few days, you may have noticed the hashtag #SWisaGirlThingToo. Yes, in 2017, we still have to say these things, but bear with me. It started when a guy responded to the Skytalkers Podcast with “Star Wars has always been a guy thing.” That same guy wrote the lovely post below:
#Starwars needs to respect tradition by focusing primarily on male characters and themes.
— Dick Sloth (@MArchon6) September 15, 2017
…Because clearly, Leia and her story was just a sidebar. Carrie Fisher is rolling her eyes so hard at you, dude. You’re lucky she’s gone, because she would have owned your sorry butt on Twitter.
Mark Hamill had a response:
— @HamillHimself (@HamillHimself) September 15, 2017
For me, as I’ve written before, Star Wars is anything but a guy thing. My earliest memory of Star Wars is my white Princess Leia toothbrush that I had at my grandparents’ house as a child. I remember seeing the Ewok movie (The Ewok Adventure), and though I think I saw other SW movies, I’m not sure. After that, I kind of forgot about it until about a year ago. I can’t even remember why I got back into it—I think my boss and I were talking about it, and I mentioned that I wasn’t sure I’d ever seen Star Wars, and he told me to start with Episode IV, which I didn’t understand at all.
Well. As a woman in her mid-30s, watching A New Hope and Princess Leia was very different than watching it as a kid. THIS—this was a princess I could support. This was a self-rescuing, take-no-shit princess who blasted Stormtroopers, sassed the guys who were sent to rescue her, and did it all in a dress, with those fantastic buns intact, not a hair out of place. Carrie Fisher the actress was no less amazing—a sharp-tongued, razor-wit individual who was unapologetic and open about her struggles and worked tirelessly to get rid of the stigma of bipolar disorder and drug abuse. Knowing that the movie was made in 1977 made her all the more kickass, since female leads like that weren’t the norm. Hearing others talk about “slave Leia” and reframe her as “Huttslayer Leia” was eye-opening. That might seem small, but it’s really not. It changes her from eye candy to warrior; from passive victim to courageous heroine. To merely characterize her as “slave Leia” would be to view her very narrowly, and really, if we’re honest, from a male gaze. Huttslayer Leia reclaims her story.
— Looking for Leia (@LookingForLeia) September 15, 2017
As I got deeper into the fandom, I began to read the comics, and most recently, I read Bloodline. Yes, I read it while hearing Carrie Fisher’s voice in my head as General Organa, and had the image of her from The Force Awakens in my head. Leia is, and has always been, more than a princess. She’s been smart (did you know Leia also received a PhD at the age of 19?), sassy, strong, loving, and tactical. She is a survivor. She is a mother. She has known love, loss, and rebuilding. She is a force to be reckoned with (no pun intended), and the kind of woman I try to emulate.
But the Star Wars galaxy is full of strong women, and we need to know their stories, too: Rey, Jyn, Hera Syndulla, Ahsoka Tano, Mara Jade, Maz Kanata, Jaina Solo, Aayla Secura, Korr Sella, and Captain Phasma, just to name a few. Believe me, I could go on—between the comics, the movies, the books, the TV shows, and the cartoons, there are plenty of characters from which to choose.
As I’ve written before, Star Wars has taken on a new meaning for me since 45 was elected. The battle between the Light and Dark Side, the forces of good and evil, the Force itself, the Resistance…these are not guy things or girl things. These are concepts everyone can enjoy, and should enjoy. The Star Wars galaxy is so special and unique in that there are new layers constantly opening; new stories being told, new histories being unearthed—many of which are about the women and girls in the galaxy. Female characters have always been part of Star Wars, and always will be. #SWisaGirlThingToo
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